News by emailDonate

Suggestions

Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

Battle-Abbey-in-East-Sussex.jpg
PA
Battle-Abbey-in-East-Sussex.jpg
PA
UK News

Christ's manger included in Christmas treasures gifted to abbey, medieval manuscript reveals

by Press Association

Christmas treasures including pieces of Christ's manger were among a host of precious objects gifted to one favoured English abbey, new analysis has revealed.

Expert study of a 580-year-old manuscript details an array of festive relics that were given to Battle Abbey by William the Conqueror and King John.

The astonishing list of objects stored at the abbey, situated near site of the Battle of Hastings, was revealed by English Heritage.

Dating back to the mid-15th century, the manuscript is one of only 30 or so relic inventories to still survive from medieval England, and mentions 175 individual relics.

From pieces of what was believed to be the manger where Christ was born, to the hair shirt and finger bone of Saint Nicholas -the original Santa Claus, the relics housed at Battle Abbey were some of the most prestigious objects gifted to any abbey in England - some more significant even than those given to Westminster Abbey, English Hertiage said.

Jim Holden/English Heritage/PA Wire

Undated handout photo issued by English Heritage of Battle Abbey in East Sussex.

 

Dr Michael Carter, English Heritage historian, said: "The collecting and cherishing of relics was an important aspect of medieval monasticism and I am thrilled to think that I could have been the first person in over 500 years to study the glorious list from Battle Abbey in detail.

"It's fascinating how connections to our Christmas today can be traced back almost a thousand years and despite Henry VIII's violent suppression, these great monasteries are still giving up their secrets.

"There's no greater endorsement than a king giving a gift of relics so this list reveals just how significant a place Battle Abbey was.

"William the Conqueror alone gave far more to Battle Abbey than any other abbey in England, illustrating just how important the site of his victory at the Battle of Hastings remained."

English Heritage/PA Wire

Undated handout photo issued by English Heritage of a list of precious treastures, Christ's manger were among a host of precious objects gifted to Battle Abbey in East Sussex by William the Conqueror and King John.

 

Seasonal highlights transcribed from the inventory include:

- Relics from the ground where Christ was born

- Relics from the manger

- Hair shirt and finger bone of Saint Nicholas, obtained possibly by the Battle monks themselves in 1089 when the saint's relics were moved to a shrine in Italy

- Stones used to stone St Stephen (his feast day is December 26, Boxing Day)

- Relics of several of the Holy Innocents killed on the orders of King Herod (feast December 28) thought to have been part of William the Conqueror's gift

Others gifts were given by King John when he visited the abbey in 1200 and presented the monks with the very holiest relics of the Holy Sepulchre (Christ's tomb) and True Cross (the very cross on which Christ suffered and died).

Dr Michael Carter's research is published in The Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies.

Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

A Monthly Gift Of £5 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the UK is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of £5 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Set up a monthly gift

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

Connect

Donate

Donate